Since New Year’s Day is stupid, I like to make equally stupid New Year’s Resolutions. One year I resolved to spend more money on shoes. Another year I resolved to always say “zero” and not “oh” when reading the number. For 2016, my resolution was to pay more attention to the Kardashians.
It wasn’t easy. They are next to impossible to find. I had to use The Google.
So I watched Season 1. And saw what my life was lacking. Namely, a closet bigger than my living room, and some famous rap dude or basketball dude.
In one episode, family matriarch Kris Jenner visits a cemetery to look at plots for herself and her whole family, a visit prompted by her 96-year-old mother’s failing health. She got it. Everyone was going to die.
I would have loved to rake in the commission on the million-dollar private mausoleum they purchased. But really, I just like to see people talking and thinking about death.
After having a second baby, I felt frustrated because we were not living like real grownups. Grownups were supposed to have two cars. Dental insurance. Book clubs. Charity auctions. And life insurance.
We got another car and a dentist. I decided reading books by myself at home would be a more beneficial activity. I volunteered at a charity auction as part of an honor society activity with my university and it was one of the worst days of my life. But we still didn’t have any life insurance, or accidental death and disability coverage.
My husband’s attitude: he didn’t want to look into such coverage for his new family because that would involve “thinking negative thoughts.” Death is scary and bad. Maybe if we ignore it, it will never happen to us. Why send money every month to a place that will make you think about death?
For obvious reasons: people die. People die when others do not want them to. People die when others were not ready for it to happen. People die without having their salary indefinitely paid to their surviving spouses. As a stay-at-home parent, a dozen or so dollars a month can mean the difference between getting to keep your household expenses covered and “Kids, Mommy has a new roommate.”
Even a non-working spouse should be covered. How is the newly single parent going to afford childcare?
I even make the case for life insurance policies on all your children, even though doing so means admitting the possibility they might die. And they might. And hopefully, your insurance coverage is adequate enough so you don’t have to go back to work a day after the death. Or a week after. Or three months later, when you’re still hoping you will just die in your sleep. Maybe you can also pay off the medical expenses your child incurred being terminally ill.
But it was a no go with my now ex-husband. He would not allow “negative thoughts” to take place. We even had a friend with a terminally ill child and that was not a wake-up call.
I’ve noticed I do not get along with people who fear all that is negative or otherwise “bad” in life. They avoid conflict. I revel in it. I am not afraid of an argument. Of bringing up something negative on such a nice day. I do not dance around elephants in the room; I kick them and force people to hear their metaphoric screams. I want to talk about your drug problem and your wife’s prison sentence, and I definitely want to talk about your child who died. What was his name?
On a parenting forum I used to frequent, one woman voiced irritation at her husband who intervened on her behalf and ended up ruining everything. They had lost a daughter a few years ago, and the woman had a friend who would mail her a card on the baby’s birthday. She loved those cards. They served as a reminder that other people remembered Abigail too. But, after receiving a card, she would cry. Her husband, probably with good intentions, wanted to protect her from those bad feelings.
But she needed them.
Death – like life – is horrible. It is uncomfortable. It produces anger, shame and hatred. Let’s run from none of it.
One of the requirements for maintaining my license is to obtain Continuing Education Credits. These can be from renewing my OSHA certification, from attending a lecture, or from independent study. Last year I decided to attend an advance-directive planning workshop.
The best part of the workshop was running into my ex and his wife. They were doing it. They were thinking about terminal illness and death and sadness. They kicked the elephant. Maybe one of them would end up drooling and watching TV for the rest of their days – kind of like most people today – and the other would have to make a hard decision. But they came to the workshop and faced that reality.